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Jack-o-Lanterns, pumpkins, goblins and ghosts and candy corn

Ireland is responsible for the first Jack-o-lantern, which was created from hollowed-out turnips. There are plentiful ideas about how the tradition got started. One involves the tale of Jack, an old, poor man. Apparently, Jack had been barred from heaven and hell, so the devil set him up with a makeshift lantern – a piece of coal placed inside the hollow turnip. The lantern would guide Jack as he walked the earth, forever in limbo.However, others say the Jack-o-Lantern was invented to keep the spirits and ghosts from ruining the Samhain holiday, also known as the Celtic New Year.The Celts believed the spirits of those who had died during the past year returned on the eve of Samhain to inhabit or “possess” live bodies for the next year. So, the Celts established a festival to ward off the spirits by dressing in ghoulish costumes and reveling in loud behaviors. They also provided food and drink at the festival to “pacify” the dead. According to legend, some people were burned at the stake by those who believed their bodies had been possessed by the spirits of the dead. The human sacrifices were eventually abandoned in favor of burning effigies.Immigrants introduced the tradition in North American as a celebration of the fall harvest. Everyone danced around bonfires, shared ghost stories and told fortunes.Halloween today is a mix of tales and legends, with one modern-day phenomenon. It might be a nightmarish holiday in theme, but it’s a retailers’ dream-come-true.Halloween is the second most successful commercial holiday, surpassed only by Christmas.Costumes are obvious big sellers. According to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the most popular Halloween costume in 2004 was Spiderman.And, of course, there’s the business of candy. Everyone would rather treat that be tricked, so candy sales peak during October. Halloween candy sales average about $2 billion per year in the United States.The first wrapped candy in the United States was the tootsie roll, which is listed among the top-10 favorite Halloween treats.In 2004, candy corn took the No. 1 spot as the most popular Halloween treat, nudging the Snickers Bar out of its long-time lead.And last but not least, can anyone guess the Colorado Halloween tradition?SNOW!!!HAPPY HALLOWEEN

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